16 Jan 2016 Ways to keep your children in the arts
by Brittany Gilbert
Arts education has so many benefits for our children. Every area of development is strengthened through creating art, and your children gain lifelong skills if they stick with it. Just like being a part of a sports team strengthens certain physical, social and other areas of development, learning a musical instrument or participating in any other area of arts education helps not just with fine and gross motor skills, but also strengthen every area of development.
Be the example
We have an amazing tool at our disposal; Pinterest changes the game for parents when it comes to being creative. You don’t have to be a creative mastermind to create things for your family or for your home. You may be really great at art or music if you just try.
My mom always liked to doodle when I was growing up, but she never really made anything. Now that she has grandchildren, we’ve received handmade gifts. Her doodling has turned into full blown artwork. She writes letters to my kids and includes drawings of their favorite characters.
Sit down with your kids and have a time when everyone de-stresses by coloring. Did you know adult coloring books exist? They really do work at helping with stress. Learn a musical instrument or take an art class with friends.
Ask for presents for memberships
We are so lucky to have so many opportunities available to us in the 501 when it comes to arts education. Some youth programs and businesses offer art classes. There are also many talented teachers in the area as well.
Another thing is true — these opportunities, while amazing, also add up. One thing that can keep the cost down is to allow your child to only participate in one activity at a time. If they want to learn the piano, only allow piano classes. You don’t want to overload your kids with activities, and it also helps them be committed to one thing instead of merely involved in a lot of things.
Another way to get help with classes and membership is to ask. I don’t know about you, but we have more toys than my kids need, and then some. Instead of toys, ask your family members to help contribute to your kids’ extracurricular activities, especially arts education. This will more than pay off for your children for the rest of their lives.
Don’t let the arts leave your family. There are so many benefits for children who are involved in arts education. Unfortunately, as children grow, the arts stop being a regular part of the day and instead become an area where we have to be intentional.
One regret I have is giving up on piano lessons. One regret my family has was letting me. Music is one of my favorite things, and I love singing with our church worship team; however, I really wish I could play an instrument as well.
While your kids may take several lessons and realize that they just don’t enjoy art or a certain instrument, that doesn’t mean that all areas of art education are off limits. If they really try learning a musical instrument and don’t enjoy it, encourage them to take an art class or participate in theater.
Arts education is an at-risk program in the school system because people don’t understand its value. If you have toddlers at home, keep creating simple crafts and allowing free play with crayons and paints. Play music throughout the day and introduce them to different instruments. As they age, there are so many ideas on the Internet with a simple search through Pinterest when it comes to crafts. Pay attention to what they are interested in and encourage them in the activities they enjoy.
Children love the arts when they are given the opportunity.
Brittany Gilbert is a former FACS teacher at Maumelle High School. She and her husband, Levi, have two sons and live in Conway. Brittany can be reached at [email protected].